From 1987 to 1995, Chinese director Zhang Yimou had one of the best runs of any filmmaker in the history of world cinema, with his films Red Sorghum, Ju Dou, Raise The Red Lantern, The Story Of Qiu Ju, To Live, and Shanghai Triad spanning centuries to tell heart-rending stories of ordinary men and women—especially women—weathering radical changes in the social order. The unifying factor between all those films (besides their general excellence) was actress Gong Li, who played everything from peasants to concubines for Zhang, embodying his dual interests in beauty and humanity. Now Zhang and Gong have re-teamed for the first time since 2006’s Curse Of The Golden Flower on Coming Home, an adaptation of the novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi by Yan Geling, about a scholar who returns home after a long time away only to find that in the Shanghai of the 1950s, he’s become a dissident.
Li would play the hero’s estranged wife, in a story that reportedly takes place from the 1920s to the 1990s. The film is in post-production, and is expected to be ready in time for Cannes, according to Variety, which is also reporting today that Sony Pictures Classics has closed a deal at the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market to distribute Coming Home in North America. SPC has a longstanding association with Zhang, dating back to Raise The Red Lantern, and given the subject matter and the star, this project could well be a throwback to the director’s greatest era.